Football: Liverpool agree $13m deal to sign first Asian player, Japanese star Takumi Minamino to wear No. 18

Takumi Minamino will officially become a Reds player on Jan 1 when the transfer window opens.

LONDON - Liverpool on Thursday (Dec 19) confirmed the signing of Japan international Takumi Minamino from Red Bull Salzburg.

The 24-year-old forward will officially become Liverpool's first Asian player on Jan 1 when the transfer window opens. He finalised personal terms and passed a medical on Merseyside on Wednesday.

The Reds triggered a release clause which allowed Minamino to leave the Austrian club for just £7.25 million (S$12.9 million). He has reportedly agreed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the European Champions.

Minamino told "It has been a dream, my dream to become a Liverpool player. And I'm so excited that the moment has come true.

"To play in the Premier League was one of my targets. I think this is the top-class league in the world; I was thinking if my career as a footballer progressed smoothly, someday I would be able to play in the Premier League.

"But I never thought I would be able to play in this team and I'm really happy about it. I'm looking forward to it."

Minamino, who will wear the No. 18 jersey, scored against Liverpool at Anfield in October in the Champions League group stage match that ended 4-3 in the home side's favour. He also played in Salzburg's 2-0 defeat by the Reds at the Red Bull Arena on December 10.

"From those games I learned this team has such a high level of technique and intensity," he added.

"Their football is of such a high level and I did feel that they were the champions of the Champions League. Feeling that, it makes me feel even happier that I can play in this team. I'm really happy to be part of that team.

"My target is to win the Premier League and the Champions League, and to make good contributions to the team."

Minamino joined Salzburg from from Cerezo Osaka in January 2015. He made 199 appearances for the Austrians and scored 64 goals. He has 22 caps for Japan and netted 11 times.

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